Class electives jump-start students' futures
By Brittany Yap
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Brittany Yap
Recent Maui High School graduate Wylie Duarosan is excited to be working for his uncle at Lizada Photography this summer where he can hone skills received through his high school's career pathways program.
"Career pathways helped unleash my talents I never knew I had," Duarosan said.
Two years ago, Maui High School began redesigning its curriculum by introducing different careers to students and creating smaller learning communities. The goal is to make students' education more relevant to their futures, and to prevent them from dropping out of school.
After their freshman year, students are able to choose electives from a certain pathway, said Principal Randy Yamanuha. The three most popular career paths are engineering and technology, arts and communication, and the health academy.
The school also is creating smaller learning communities by assigning freshmen to teams of about 125 students with four core teachers (math, science, social studies and English). The students stay with those teachers for their first two years of school.
Yamanuha said the goal is to help make the transition to high school easier and to personalize their education.
The program is financed by a Smaller Learning Community federal grant.
"The majority of the money is for teacher and administrative training," Yamanuha said. "Teachers are taught to teach in teams, do integrated lessons and personalize instruction."
Before the career pathways curriculum, students would "just take a bunch of electives that led to nowhere," Yamanuha said.
Duarosan said the career pathways program worked for him.
During his junior and senior years, when the program was implemented, Duarosan took yearbook production and graphic design for his electives.
Duarosan, yearbook editor for two years and winner of numerous graphic design awards, now wants to learn more about business so that he can open his own someday.
Yamanuha hopes that in the future, seniors will be involved in internships and/or receive early admittance at Maui Community College, where they can begin taking college courses.
What are you most proud of? "If you look in the community and throughout the state, our students have been very successful," Yamanuha said. They're "everything from politicians to doctors to lawyers."
Best-kept secret: "We're one of the only high schools in the state that has a television studio that can broadcast live classes statewide on the Department of Education channel," Yamanuha said.
Everybody at our school knows: "Mr. Hotta, our post-secondary counselor. He helps students fill out applications for scholarships and college. He also visits different colleges and recommends them to students," Yamanuha said.
Our biggest challenge: Aside from attracting and retaining good teachers, Yamanuha said, "Our biggest challenge is trying to get students ready for the 21st century. Our facilities are not conducive to what (the students) expect. We need to upgrade facilities and make it realistic so things can happen."
What we need: "The simple thing would be to say money," Yamanuha said. "However, we also need a greater involvement from the community and their support in emphasizing education. Everyone from employers, to businesses, to parents."
On the horizon: The school is building a softball stadium to be named after the late U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink, a Maui High School alumna, for her persistence in the fight for Title IX gender equity.